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How To Conduct A Behavioral Interview

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Behavioral Vs Traditional Interviews

3 Tips to Behavioral-Based Interviewing | Human Resources Training | Improve Interviewing Skills

In a traditional interview, you will be asked a series of questions which typically have straightforward answers like “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” or “How do you handle a challenge?” or “Describe a typical workweek.”

In a behavioral interview, an employer has in the person they hire and will ask questions to find out if the candidate has those skills. Instead of asking how you would behave, they will ask how you did behave.

The interviewer will want to know how you handled a situation, instead of what you might do in the future.

What Are Behavioral Interviewing Questions

You might know behavioral interviewing questions as the ones that start with tell me about a time when But just asking questions in this way is not enough. You also need to be sure the questions are carefully structured around competencies for the job.

Behavioral interviewing questions are designed to show how someone demonstrated a specific behavior or skill in a situation. And questions are targeted for the specific role, based on the Success Profile set for the job.

How To Nail A Behavioral Interview

If you’re in the market for a new job, preparing for potential interviews is likely on the top of your priority list.

In today’s world, practicing for the traditional interview isn’t enough. In recent years, the behavioral interview, also known as the competency-based interview, has gained popularity.

Developed in the 1970s by industrial psychologists, behavioral-based interview questions help the interviewer understand how you’ve performed and behaved in the past with actual results and scenarios. The traditional interview, on the other hand, focuses on open-ended questions that permit the opportunity for you to share what you think the interviewer wants to hear because they ask for opinion-based responses.

When candidate selection is solely based on a traditional interview, the wrong candidate can easily be selected for the job. That’s not to say the same thing can’t happen when a behavioral-based interview is used, but the behavioral interview typically allows for a better job fit and performance match long-term. In fact, per Ph.D. Katherine Hansen on Quintessential, behavioral interview questions are said to be 55 percent predictive of future on-the-job behavior, whereas traditional is only 10 percent predictive of future on-the-job behavior.

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Adapting To The Environment

  • Tell me about a situation in which you had to get around a major obstacle to complete a project.
  • Tell me about a time you had to work on several projects at once. How did you handle this?
  • Describe something you did in your last job that showed your ability to be flexible.
  • Under what conditions do you work best? What changes have you experienced in your current position?
  • Give me a recent example of a stressful situation on the job. What happened? How did you handle it?

Tell Me About A Goal You Set And Reached And How You Achieved It

How To Conduct a Behavioral Interview

For this question, the interviewer wants to see how you plan to achieve a goal. A good answer is one where you were given a goal, created a plan and followed the necessary steps to achieve it. A great answer is one where you set your own goal, especially a large goal, and took the necessary steps to reach it.

Example:“In my last role, I managed all social media content. One quarter, I set a stretch goal to increase conversions to our website by 75%. I broke it down into weekly goals and researched what other brands were experimenting with. I noticed they were using videos and seeing great engagement from their customers, so I asked my boss if we could do a low-budget test. She agreed, so I produced a video cheaply in-house that drove double the engagement we normally saw on our social channels during the first week. With the new strategy, I not only met my stretch goal, but I also exceeded it by 5% increasing total conversions by 80% over the quarter.

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Give Me An Example Of How You Set Goals

This question is designed to show the interviewer how well you plan and set goals. A great answer is one where you discuss an ambitious goal you set for yourself and how you came up with a plan for success.

Example:“Within a few weeks of beginning my job as a server at a restaurant, I knew I wanted to work in the foodservice industry as a chef. I decided I would learn all I could in my current position until an opening became available in the kitchen, even for less pay. I wanted the experience of working in a restaurant kitchen environment. I also started saving up money at that time to go to the culinary academy. I knew that by the time I finished school, I would have been working in the kitchen for a number of years and would be highly competitive as a candidate for chef roles.”

Whats A Behavioral Interview Question

Behavioral interview questions are questions based on how you acted in a specific situation.

Theyre meant to gauge how you react to stress, whats your skill-level, and how you conduct yourself in a professional environment.

They also allow the interviewer to get a much better understanding of you as a candidate.

Just about anyone can answer a question like whats your greatest strength?

Not everyone, however, can answer a question like:

Can you tell us of a time when you went above and beyond the line of duty?

After all, to answer such a behavioral interview question, you really need to have some serious work experience and achievements.

Here are a few other popular examples of behavioral job interview questions:

  • Give us an example of a goal you failed to meet, and how you handled the situation.
  • Tell us about a time when you solved a problem at your job that wasnt part of your job description.
  • Tell us of a time when you took a risky decision and it didnt pay off.

Pretty simple, right?

Now, were going to teach you a proven method on how to answer every single behavioral interview question successfully.

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Answering A Behavioral Question

Behavioral questions usually are open-ended. They can cover a very wide range and its not possible to prepare for every question that can be asked. What helps, however, is to relate the question to commonly asked questions that you have prepared for and answer accordingly. The following 5-step process will help you answer a behavioral question during an interview.

We will use the following example

Example Question: Tell us about a time when you had to convince senior executives

Behavioral Job Interview Questions About Teamwork

How to Conduct an Interview | Effective Interview Questions

Question #1 – Tell me about a time when you had to work with someone completely different from you. How did you adapt to collaborate better?

Situation: Sure, I always enjoy working with new and different people. Usually, because they bring something new to the table. At Company X, there was a particularly young developer who was assigned to work with me on a new software development project, and I was to run him through what our typical coding process was like.

Task: It was also my job to get to know him, and find common ground so that we could effectively work together. The fact that he was younger wasnt an issue for me, but because he was completely self-taught, he didnt know a lot about the industry methodologies we used.

Action: Teaching him everything from scratch would take too much time. So, instead, I briefly explained the development process we were using for that specific project, and taught him how to write tests for our code-base. Writing tests is the number 1 way to learn what code does. After all, thats how I got started with development.

Question #2 – What do you do when your team member refuses to, or just cant complete their part of the work? Give me an example.

Action: I started regularly checking in on her to see where she was with work. I would bring it up at times over lunch, send a quick Slack message, and so on. She wasnt taking this quite well, but it DID get her to work faster and more efficiently.

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How To Answer A Behavioral Interview Question

The best way to prepare for and answer behavioral questions might be the STAR Method, a technique that helps your answers really shinebad pun intended.

Here is what the STAR Method stands for and how to apply it to behavioral queries:

S = Situation. Ask yourself, what was the problem? Be as specific as possible.

T = Task. Then, determine what the goal wasask, what did you need to do?

A = Action. Identify the specific steps you took to reach the goal.

R = Result. Report the final outcome. This is the time to talk yourself up. Take credit for what you accomplished, and if you can highlight multiple positives, even better!

Now that you know the steps of the STAR Method, heres how you might use it to answer a behavioral interview question: Lets say youre asked, Whats the most difficult problem you had to solve? Using the STAR Method, heres how you would formulate a response:

S: Our team revenues were down in the last quarter of the year.

T: We had to increase our revenue by 10 percent.

A: I overhauled our outdated and ineffective processes, and worked with my teammates to develop a new, more effective approaches.

R: Thanks to processes I overhauled and the new approaches I instituted, we increased our revenue by 12 percent that quarter.

Because behavioral interview questions can be complex, write out your answers. This will help you think it through more fully. Then practice with someone whose professional opinion you trust.

Tips For Answering Behavioral Interview Questions

Take Your Time. Its okay to take a moment before answering the question. Take a breath, or a sip of water, or simply pause. This will give you time to calm any nerves and think of an anecdote that appropriately answers the question.

Prepare Ahead of Time. Review common behavioral interview questions ahead of time and practice your answers.

This will help you ensure that you have a number of thoughtful anecdotes ready to answer any behavioral interview questions.

Follow the STAR Technique. Be sure to answer any questions using the STAR technique described above. By completing each of the four steps, you will provide a thorough answer without rambling or getting off topic.

Be Positive. Often, behavioral interview questions require you to focus on a problem or a failure at work. Describe the problem or issue you faced, but dont focus too much on the negative. Quickly shift to describing how you solved the problem and the positive results.

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What You Could Be Asked

Interviewers might pose a variety of behavioral questions. Examples of interview questions include the following:

  • Can you give me an example of how you motivated an underperforming subordinate to increase productivity?
  • Describe a time when you implemented a new program that was successful.
  • Give me an example of a conflict you had with an employee. How did you resolve it?

Behavioral interview questions will often start with phrases such as:

  • “Tell me about a time…”
  • “Describe a time…”
  • “How did you handle .”
  • “Give me an example of…”

Employers are looking for a detailed explanation of an experience from your past. They want to know what the experience was and how you dealt with it. Your responses will give the interviewer an indication of how you handle projects and issues at work.

What Is The Interviewers Role

Improving Communications

While the candidate is answering your questions your job as the interviewer is to be an active listener who is looking for the following key behaviors:

  • Intelligent responses to given situations
  • Good or poor reactions
  • Problem-solving ability or problem-making ability
  • Positive, pro-active, or can-do attitude

Dont be afraid to dig deeper during the interview. In fact, if a candidates answer seems generic you should ask follow-up questions to clarify the response.

Also, be sure to shy away from asking situational questions that are framed hypothetically . The answer that results from a hypothetical question will not prove anything about past experience or behavior, and may lead the candidate to simply fabricate an answer based on what they think you want to hear.

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Why Conduct Behavioral Interviews

Behavioral interviews are an accurate predictor of future performance

To find the right candidate for a position, hiring managers should come up with interview questions that gauge applicants behaviors in addition to their skillsets. Behavioral interview questions are one of the most accurate predictors of a candidates future performance in identical situations by exploring historical experiences.

Behavioral interviews are objective and structured

The behavioral interviewing technique is part of a group of interviewing methods known as structured interviews. Structured interviews are used to objectively evaluate candidates and compare them for a position in your company by asking a set of questions relevant to the job. These sets of questions tend to have a predetermined rating scale that helps the employer identify the best candidates for a position based on the answers that candidates provided.

Behavioral interviews allow for fair evaluation and fewer chances of bias

Structured interviews make it easier for hiring managers to complete the job selection process fairly. This is because every candidate gets assessed using the same set of questions which helps analyze the candidates ability to deliver on job duties and remove ambiguity and bias.

Gather And Understand The Keywords

The first thing that needs to be done is to research for topics on which the interview will ask questions. Behavioral questions can have a wide range of topics. The most commonly asked questions are about

  • Leadership
  • Taking a stand
  • Working with a deadline
  • Look for questions over the internet that were asked in a behavioral interview and familiarize yourself with the topics and note them down. This should take about 12 hours.

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    Why Behavioral Questions Are Important When Hiring Hourly Employees

    According to a survey by PeopleMatter, the annual turnover rates of hourly employees across various industries are over 49% and it costs businesses a whopping $4,969 per employee. This is no surprise, considering the exorbitant cost of hiring . By identifying the right candidate, businesses can lower the risk of turnover, and instead repurpose the cost savings towards incentivizing employees through training and bonuses.

    Three main factors determine an ideal hourly employee:


    How long were you at your previous job? Why did you leave?

    Conflict resolutionDescribe a time when you disagreed with your supervisor? What was the situation and how did you solve it?

    • Can you elaborate on the situation?
    • What exactly did you do?
    • How did it turn out?
    • What specific roles were you taking on at that moment?

    Tell Me About How You Work Under Pressure

    How to Conduct a Job Interview

    The interviewer is using this question to see how well you work under pressure and what strategies you have used in the past to handle the pressure. This question is especially important if you’re interviewing for a high-stress job. A great answer will give a specific example of how you managed a high-pressure situation successfully. It could also include what you would have done differently, looking back.

    Example:“I had been working on a large project that my team committed to turning around for the client in 60 days. My manager came to me and said that the client wanted it back in 45 days and that we would need to speed up our work without losing momentum on our other projects. I met with our team and we reviewed the calendar. We eliminated team meetings and shifted lower-priority tasks until the end of the 45-day period to add extra hours to our workweeks. I challenged my team to complete the project in 45 days or left and as a reward promised two days of extra PTO time. Our team got the job done in 42 days.”

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    Learn About The Company

    It can be helpful to research the company. As with the job listing, this research will give you a sense of the qualities and abilities that interviewers will prioritize.

    If time permits, conduct informational interviews with professional contacts in the field to get input regarding the preferred skills, knowledge bases, and personal qualities of successful employees in that type of job.

    How Can You Prepare For A Behavioral Interview

    Do your homework. You want to study the job description and company you’ll be interviewing with to help you prepare for a behavioral-based interview. If you can, find out some info about the last or current incumbent of the position and the types of employees the organization hires. This will help you come up with a list of competencies, attributes, and skills, which is discussed in the next paragraph.

    Come up with a list of competencies, attributes, and skills. Behavioral interview questions will give you the chance to showcase your talent, ability, and results. To prepare, you’ll want to think about the type of competencies the company is looking for. Most companies will look for similar competencies, attributes, and skills, such as communication, team player, ability to focus, efficiency, timeliness, flexibility, attention to detail, management and leadership material, creativity, goal orientation and responsibility. Take a moment to rank the list you come up with in relation to the position for which you are applying.

    Create a list of your past experiences. Make a list of your past experiences and successes that highlight the list of competencies, skills, and attributes you come up with, as noted in the point above. Come up with good antidotes and stories, as we all love a good story. With that said, you want to keep your answers focused and to-the-point.

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